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China urged to take tougher measures against avian flu

Producers in China need to make greater efforts to prevent and control the spread of the H7N9 influenza virus, according to an animal health expert.

Monique Eloit, director-general of the World Organisation for Animal Health, said China had worked hard to limit the impact of the disease since it was first reported in the country in 2013.

But she said a large outbreak of the disease last winter showed there was still work to be done, reports The Poultry Site.

“Controlling avian flu is very difficult, because there are different strains, and sometimes there are no symptoms in animals with the disease,” Eloit said during a visit to China.

“For the H7N9 strain, China’s Ministry of Agriculture developed a very comprehensive control program with different complementary measures, especially for live bird markets, which were the main sources of contamination and risk for spreading the disease.”

China has so far recorded 192 human H7N9 cases, including 79 deaths in January.

Experts from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the disease, which peaks in winter, was expected to drop off in late April.

In 2016 China started to take measures against the virus, including closing live poultry markets in provinces heavily hit by the virus.

“I believe China significantly improved its capacity to control the disease in animals,” Eloit said.

“Unfortunately, avian flu is a very contagious disease, so if it is not controlled at the source it is a risk for humans and for other countries [because of global trade].”

Eloit said improving the control program and transparency in the sector should be the two main pillars of the country’s disease control strategy. Efforts also should be adapted to changing situations, she added.

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Posted on June 27, 2017

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